Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024:
FMCSA proposes changes to CDL testing requirements
A notice of proposed rulemaking will publish Friday, Feb. 2, in the Federal Register in a move that FMCSA said it believes will “improve the efficiency and convenience of CDL issuance and improve highway safety by further ensuring the integrity of third-party CDL knowledge testing.” Proposed changes, among them some that would make permanent for all conditions for which the agency has granted numerous waivers in past, are as follows:
- Expanding applicants’ ability to take a CDL skills test in a state other than their state of domicile
- Permitting a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holder who has passed the CDL skills test to operate a commercial vehicle on public roads without having a qualified CDL holder in the passenger seat
- Eliminating the requirement that an applicant wait at least 14 days to take the CDL skills test following initial issuance of the CLP
- Requiring that third-party knowledge examiners be subject to the training, certification and record check standards currently applicable to state knowledge examiners and to the auditing and monitoring requirements now applicable to third-party skills testers
- Removing the requirement that CMV drivers must have a passenger (P) endorsement to transport CMVs designed to carry passengers, including school buses, when the vehicle is being transported in a driveaway-towaway operation and the vehicle is not carrying any passengers.
The agency invoked so-called driver shortages, noting it felt the changes could help and also “enhance supply chain stability, and provide appropriate regulatory relief without impacting safety,” the agency said in the NPRM. In fact, FMCSA said, the proposal with the change related to third-party knowledge-test examiners.
As noted, some of the changes being proposed have already been granted as exemptions from the regulations in recent history. A number of large fleets, including C.R. England, New Prime and more, have held exemptions that allow CLP holders who have passed the CDL skills test to operate without a CDL holder in the passenger seat.
The third-party testing, 14-day eligibility and out-of-state testing regs were waived for at least parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well, as state driver’s license agencies were operating on a limited basis or struggled with staffing issues.
FMCSA seeks public feedback on the proposal, which will have a 60-day comment period beginning Friday. Comments can be made at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2023-0115.
Waiver allowing camera-mirror alternative renewed
FMCSA is renewing for five years a waiver that allows truck operators to use the MirrorEye Camera Monitor System (CMS) from the Stoneridge company as an alternative to the two rear-vision mirrors required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).
The renewed exemption is effective Feb. 13, 2024, through Feb. 12, 2029, unless revoked earlier.
The Stoneridge system consists of multiple digital cameras mounted on the exterior of the CMV and enclosed in an aerodynamic package that provides both environmental protection for the cameras and a mounting location for optimal visibility. Each camera has video processing software that presents a clear, high-definition image to the driver by means of a monitor mounted to each A-pillar of the truck.
FMCSA first granted the exemption to allow the camera-mirror system in February 2019, noting that the system eliminates blind spots created by traditional mirrors, expands the field of view by an estimated 25%, and the trailer panning feature automatically tracks the end of the trailer to keep it in view. The MirrorEye system’s cameras also feature self-cleaning lenses to cut down on problems with rain, dirt and more.
Since the 2019 exemption, Stoneridge said the MirrorEye has been installed on over 1,000 vehicles in North America, logging over an estimated 100 million miles with no reported incidents caused by the system.
FMCSA will accept comments on the exemption renewal for 30 days beginning Friday, Feb. 2, at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0141.
Pilot kicks off heart-health fundraiser
In support of Heart Month in February, Pilot Travel Centers is kicking off its seventh year of raising funds to support the fight against heart disease and stroke.
This February, guests can visit participating Pilot, Flying J and One9 travel centers to donate to the campaign. Ways to contribute include:
- Paper hearts: $1, $3 and $5 paper hearts will be available for purchase at participating travel centers to benefit the American Heart Association's Life is Why campaign in the United States and Heart and Stroke Foundation in Canada with 100% of the proceeds donated to each organization, respectively.
- Pin pad roundup or donation: Guests can round up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar or elect to donate other amounts on the pin pad during checkout to the American Heart Association's Life is Why campaign at participating U.S. travel centers or the Heart and Stroke Foundation in participating Canada locations with 100% of the proceeds donated to each organization, respectively.
Pilot noted that certain purchases, including fuel and fuel additives and purchases made on fleet cards or direct bill programs are not eligible for round-up contributions.
"Together, we have the power to make a significant difference in the lives of people, both within our local communities and across the globe," said Diana Morgan, director of well-being and benefits at Pilot Travel Centers LLC. "Rounding-up your purchase or buying a paper heart enables the American Heart Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada to discover breakthroughs and develop initiatives that will save and improve lives."